Yotzeir Ohr #13
זורע צדקות, מצמיח ישועות
sows kindnesses, makes salvations flourish
Our seeds of Torah, tefilah, avodah, and chesed become seeds that are nurtured by HaKadosh Baruch Hu to become a source of salvation in the future. He alone sows the seeds and causes them to sprout.
One modern-day example has opened the door for hundreds of thousands of people from all types of backgrounds to learn so many areas of Torah previously inaccessible to them. One initial act of chesed performed by one individual with extraordinary m’siras nefesh began a “revolution” that HaRav Dovid Cohen feels is responsible for the explosive growth of the Daf Yomi program. The ArtScroll Talmud Bavli is only one of hundreds of s’farim that have been made available in a way that opens them up to people who otherwise could not have learned them or learned them nearly as well. It is hard to imagine walking into any shul or home that does not have a number of ArtScroll s’farim.
The seeds of chesed planted by Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz z”l were nurtured by HaKadosh Baruch Hu and grew into the “ArtScroll” we benefit from today. When a very close friend of his suddenly died young, Rabbi Zlotowitz decided that, in his merit, he would translate and elucidate Megillas Esther and complete the project in 30 days for his friend’s Shloshim. This was a monumental project to complete in 30 days. He worked tirelessly, day and night, surrounding himself with s’farim and his notes. He barely ate and slept during this time. The result was the very first ArtScroll sefer. With the encouragement of his rebbe and Gadol HaDor, HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, ArtScroll as we know it was born.
The Gemara (B’rachos 20a and Sanhedrin 106b) relates that the Torah knowledge of earlier generations was far below later generations. Yet, when there were droughts, the later generations with superior Torah knowledge would cry out repeatedly and not be answered, whereas earlier generations were answered immediately. One of the two sources in the Gemara points to the m’siras nefesh of the earlier generation, while the other source points to their service of Hashem with much greater heart and mind as the cause for their being granted immediate salvation, where the later generations were not.
We never know precisely why Hashem does what He does. Perhaps we can, however, speculate that it was the outstanding m’siras nefesh of Rabbi Zlotowitz, both in the initial chesed he performed for his friend with such extraordinary dedication and effort, and in the continued m’siras nefesh that both he and, yibadeil bein chayim l’chayim, Rabbi Nosson Scherman, invested into their efforts for klal Yisrael. Both Rabbi Zlotowitz and Rabbi Scherman mortgaged their homes at one point to continue to meet payroll. Perhaps the m’siras nefesh were the seeds that Hashem sowed, nurtured, and ultimately sprouted into salvation for so many in klal Yisrael. So many homes today are Torah homes with working men who have finished Shas (many have completed Shas multiple times) initially because Hashem made that possible through ArtScroll. Hundreds of thousands (and likely more) of lives have been significantly impacted as a result of enhanced Torah learning, tefilah, midos, and overall service to Hashem that is a result of the hundreds of ArtScroll s’farim and siddurim that Hashem sprouted from the seeds produced by Rabbi Zlotowitz and others.
In reality, we are all producing seeds that Hashem sows, nurtures, and will sprout for our salvation – individual salvation and our national and global salvation with the coming of Mashiach. May we merit to produce our seeds of Torah, tefilah, avodah, and chesed with more heart and m’siras nefesh, and may Hashem cause the seeds to sprout forth speedily in our days.